10 July 2020

Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update #46, 10 July 2020

This update focuses on the measures we’re taking to ensure that students and staff can work and study safely in our buildings during the new academic year, with an appeal to everyone to take their own responsibility for following the safety guidelines. The step-by-step relaxation has also led to the awarding of diplomas being resumed. Furthermore, we report that YUFE is already opening its virtual doors this summer and we refer to the 10th (and final) post from Martin Paul’s corona blog. Finally, in this update you will also find two interviews with researchers in the ‘We’re open!’ series.

Safety starts with you!

Maastricht University is doing everything it can to create a study and work environment that is as safe as possible. Under the motto ‘Education on campus if possible, online if necessary’, we’re expecting to have students in our buildings again in the new academic year, though not yet in the same numbers as before. And although working will still be done from home for many employees from the start of the new academic year, more employees will be coming to their physical workplace at UM. This will be done in consultation with their supervisor (for part of their working hours) if it is necessary or desirable to carry out work activities on-site and if it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, UM is making every effort to ensure that everyone within our buildings can work and study at a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from each other. Partly thanks to various extra hygiene measures and the implementation of protocols, the buildings are so-called 'COVID-19-proof'. Students or employees who are potentially contagious, are of course accountable for taking their responsibility to temporarily avoid the university buildings.

It is very important that everyone complies with the government's (RIVM) safety measures, in particular the 1.5-metre rule—because of their own health, but above all to protect the health of others. UM is counting on everyone in our community of students and employees to take their own responsibility to strictly comply with the measures, and in the unlikely event that this does not happen, to hold each other accountable for this compliance.

Monitoring compliance
In addition, the university has been assisted by scientists from our own organisation who have expertise in the area of safety and behaviour. As a result, it is important that UM organises a form of monitoring for the compliance with safety agreements. Students will therefore be provided with stewards. These will be fellow students who are recruited by UM (via InterUM) and trained to (help) ensure maximum safety in and around the university buildings. These student stewards will be given a clearly recognisable vest to wear while they are carrying out their duties. They will also monitor compliance with the smoking ban that will be in effect as of 1 August in and around the UM buildings.

As far as employees are concerned, the first priority is to hold each other accountable for compliance with the corona safety guidelines. Faculties and service centres will also make agreements on how best to encourage employees to help monitor compliance with the safety measures in their own buildings. Employees who are present may therefore be asked to pay extra attention to compliance and speak to their colleagues if they are not complying with the protocols, for example. This will be worked out in greater detail by the faculties or service centres that are located in each building.

As mentioned above, having a safe place to study and work is of the utmost importance for the health of all of us. The university is doing everything in its power to guarantee safety, from raising awareness to providing optimal ventilation in the rooms, and from posting signage to modifying buildings. However, the greatest contributions to the safety of our entire university community are made by students and staff. The appeal therefore also applies as of 31 August: Please take care of yourself, but especially of each other!

Awarding of diplomas able to resume

Since 1 July, students who graduate from UM have been able to physically pick up their diploma from their faculty if they wish to do so. In mid-March, all graduation ceremonies were suspended and a month later, the delivery of diplomas by the printer was also temporarily suspended. Alumni who needed proof of graduation could download this from the DUO diploma register. Now, the printing has resumed and faculties are again able send the diplomas by registered post to alumni who request this. In addition, faculties can also physically hand over diplomas to graduates (or persons authorised to accept them) if the graduates have indicated this preference when graduating. Faculties are also considering what form graduation ceremonies should have after 1 September.

Jump-start for the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE)

Remember YUFE, the alliance of Young Universities for the Future of Europe? One of the first European universities, led by Maastricht University? Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, YUFE is off to a flying start with a range of online academic programmes starting from the 2020/21 academic year, allowing you to still study abroad! 

This summer, YUFE will open its virtual doors for registration for the YUFE Introduction Offer. As the name reveals, the YUFE Introduction Offer is a teaser of what YUFE can offer to students. Through the YUFE Introduction Offer, a limited number of students (who are already enrolled at a YUFE university as at least a second-year bachelor’s student) can take a maximum of two online YUFE Academic Courses and one online YUFE Activity. This sneak peek into the YUFE Student Journey can be a stand-alone activity or it can serve as a stepping stone to the complete YUFE Diploma Supplement Track, which will be launched later in the upcoming academic year. 

More information will soon be available on the YUFE pages of the UM website.

Martin's blog post #10 (finale)

Today, the latest and final post has been published in the corona blog of UM President Martin Paul: ‘Looking for a safe place to travel during the pandemic’. In relation to the summer holidays, he discusses the role that big data can play in predicting which holiday destinations will see the coronavirus flare up again. After summer recess he will of course continue blogging, but on a wider variaty of topics.

We're open!

Also this week, two new stories appeared in the ‘We’re open!’ story series. Klasien Horstman, professor of Philosophy of Public Health, along with visual artist Marlies Vermeulen, received a scholarship (the Mingler Scholarship) with which they will study and make tangible the reality of infectious diseases in border regions. In addition, Studio Europa Maastricht spoke with Clemens Kool, professor of Monetary and Financial Economics, about an economic and monetary union that threatens to drift further and further apart.